There is overwhelming public support for more devolution to the West Midlands according to Centre for Cities’ polling by Savanta ComRes ahead of next month’s election.
Just four years after the establishment of the West Midlands Mayor, 80% back giving more power to the office holder. Almost half (46%) support giving the Mayor more responsibility for providing affordable housing, while significant numbers back the Mayor having a bigger role in supporting business (42%) and providing access to skills and training (40%).
Just 5% of the public oppose further devolution to the West Midlands Mayor.
The polling was commissioned to understand the impact of devolution and the new office of Mayor since the elections in 2017. Seven in ten (70%) people polled in the West Midlands were aware that the city region has a mayor.
30% could correctly identify Andy Street has the incumbent Mayor – an eight percentage point increase in the past year. At 30% Andy his local public recognition in the West Midlands is higher than the Mayor of the Liverpool City Region (22%) and lower than the mayors of London (60%) and Greater Manchester (63%) in their respective cities.
People in the West Midlands were also asked to consider how the West Midlands Mayor, their local council and the Government have handled of pandemic. People in the West Midlands are largely approving of the performance of all three.
The UK Government has a net approval rating of +28, councils in the West Midlands have a net rating of +27 and the Mayor of the West Midlands has a net rating of +21 (the proportion approving of their handling of the outbreak, minus the proportion disapproving).
The public’s top priorities for the West Midlands Mayor’s next term are health care provision (45%), schools (43%) and emergency services (30%).
People’s priorities have shifted significantly during the pandemic. Schools (+15), support for businesses (+9) and colleges (+6) have all risen in importance. Meanwhile, transport (-10) and housing (-14) have both fallen in importance.
Centre for Cities’ Chief Executive Andrew Carter said: “People in the West Midlands overwhelmingly support shifting power out of Whitehall and down to the city region. Devolving more responsibility for providing affordable housing, supporting businesses and running adult education schemes are all popular with the public in the West Midlands.
At the 2019 election, the Government backed the principle of more devolution in England yet, more than a year later, we are still waiting to see what its plans are.
“As the West Midlands looks to recover from the pandemic, it is vital that the Government listens to demands for more devolution and gives the next mayor the powers and resources to build back better. People want Whitehall to do less, it’s time for it to listen.”